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Zen and Creativity

Zen arts include all genres of the expressive arts: painting, calligraphy, writing, poetry, gardening, music, dance, flower arranging, cooking.  Creative expression is a fundamental aspect of Zen practice; practitioners at Olympia Zen Center are encouraged to discover Awakened expression in one or more of the Zen arts.



The plainness and clarity of the strokes in brushwork tell us how Zen training is reflected in all that we do. The aim is to drop off the fragments of personality that express ego and to allow the radiance of Buddha Nature to shine forth as a presence. This is the aim when we stand with loaded brush poised in silence over the paper in Emptiness-presence. Then we move and throw our entire being into each stroke. The black ink on paper is charged with light and we cannot look away.


Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, the writer attempts to lift the reader to a new moment of experience and insight. The new genre of Buddhist fiction offers a Zen Buddhist writer an opportunity to explore the Buddhist elements of the search for the true self, impermanence, life and death, liberation from suffering, the problem of ego, and the existential challenges that confront us in our quest for meaning.


The way to write poetry is to be completely oneself and to discover one's own voice and what one has to say while not ignoring all that has gone before. The quest for authenticity must bring us back to the vow to write, because in order to achieve this fidelity, it takes devotion, work, attention, commitment, and love. In this process, the one we truly uncover is the Self.

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